A day in which the people who still respect our undeniable interconnectivity with this planet try to remind us to THINK — to think about the small slice of time Man has walked this planet, and how respectful we should be to its needs. Although Earth Day was first founded in this country by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in, first held on April 22, 1970, it seems to me that few have truly thought about the lessons taught on this day. You don’t need me to tell you we are more sick and more worried about climate change than ever. What have we done to our planet, and in turn, ourselves? How absurdly maniacal is that we think we can rape and pillage this Earth to our own immediate satisfaction without consequence? How is it that no one can scream loud enough to stop it? How have we gotten so far from the concept of respect for our planet, not realized how sick we are, and not stopped to THINK?
As Thinking Moms, we have to look outside our conventional product aisles to really, truly help our families blossom and grow and improve from the environmental insults that have hurt us and continue to cause damage. It is frustrating. It is time consuming. It is often extremely expensive (especially when it’s not time consuming). I read this quote recently, “The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do so without destroying the health of the mind” from British writer G.K. Chesterton. The way we have manipulated what the Earth has given us to sustain ourselves has become the burden that will kill us. But we owe it to our kids and our families to take on this stress. Sometimes a few simple changes can really reduce the chemical overloads that stress our kids’ systems and result in markedly improved behaviors, moods, allergies and immune reactions, and development. At the SAME time, these new and thoughtful practices put less of a burden on Earth. Beyond the BIGGEST influence on these issues (FOOD and the production of FOOD), which we have written about before (Connecting To Our Kids Through Our Connection With The Land by Savage) and will write about again, here are a few minor but important things I’ve learned to THINK about:
- Mattresses. Most are made with antimony and arsenic. I air them out, I cover the crib mattresses with a special safe cover so that the outgassing occurs from the bottom and not in my child’s face. When my husband and I got a new mattress, we left it uncovered in the garage until I couldn’t smell it anymore — and then for another week after that!
- Potting Soil. Plants in your house are so good for you, but if they are planted in Miracle Grow soil and those chemicals are outgassing (sending poison into the air), is that good? My cousins run an organic soil business an hour from here. It can be found. If we re-sod my front yard, I will insist on their dirt. Which leads me to…
- Chemicals on the lawn. How much gets tracked into your house, seeps into the ground water, or ends up on your kids’ skin? EW!
- The Bug Man. Have them spray outside perimeter only – if at all! I would love for someone to study the health and lifespan of those workers that are dealing with those chemicals all day. Conventional farmers, too, while they are at it.
- Microwaves. Any kind of plastic in the microwave is just asking for a big swig of carcinogens. Even without plastic, the benefits of the food you nuke are going to diminish. Frozen vegetables to be microwaved in the plastic bag they come in? Are you kidding? How about we just turn the microwave into a breadbox?
- Building materials. Any kind of renovation or updating in your home will bring you into contact with toxic materials. Paint, carpet, flooring, new furniture, treated wood all outgas and can affect members of the family. Find the low/no VOCs, the greener products, and outgas the supplies outside of your home for an extended period of time.
- Cleaning materials. Many of us now use baking soda/vinegar/essential oil/water recipes. Some choose greener brands. One big one for me (because I’ve been bitten by “green” carpet cleaning companies) is that I have my own carpet cleaner and I use just HOT water, or hot water and hydrogen peroxide and clean away.
- Food containers. I’ve found glass containers for leftovers with plastic tops. Stainless steel water bottles. Non-BPA/lead lunchboxes. When in doubt, avoid plastic, especially when it comes to things you’d like to put in the dishwasher often. It gets hot in there! Imagine the outgassing and breakdown of something you’ll use again.
- Dental procedures. No x-rays (unless absolutely necessary) or fluoride. NEVER “silver fillings” and ask for BPA-free tooth colored fillings. Just go ahead and find a holistic dentist if you can.
- Personal care products. Sorry, you gotta ditch the aluminum deodorant. Seriously. And read the labels on your shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, face products, all of it. Laurel Sulphates are a couple of the word to look for. GROSS. I always like this analogy when it comes to thinking about things you put on your skin: Some doctors prescribe the “Patch” for birth control. A STICKER can change a woman’s complete hormone profile. So can anything else you slather on your skin. Remember what goes on YOUR skin, also goes onto your baby’s. And don’t forget about laundry detergent. Carcinogens, phosphates, and more harm Earth and body. The Environmental Working Group has great guides for products to use (or avoid).
- EMFs (Electronic and Magnetic Fields). Unplug your wireless router when not in use. Leave all electronics, especially cell phones, in the kitchen at night. If you have a smart meter installed on your home, keep the bed of the most vulnerable of your house away from it.
- Finally, just a list of a few more things you need to do your research on for your babies and children: commercial formula, shoes that light up, bottles and sippies, pacifiers and chewy toys, clothes with flame retardants, and bedding….
I could clearly go on. And on. And on. (Feel free to add your own suggestions of things to avoid or buy in the comments!!!) I have found myself very overwhelmed over the years and I’m sure you feel the same (the truth hurts sometimes!). The point is that, for the sake of our Earth and our bodies and minds, we need to THINK about these things. Buy the safer options. Send a message to corporate America: We don’t WANT crap around!!!! The fabulous documentary Dirt (which can be viewed for free HERE on www.hulu.com) explains that the Earth is as alive as we are, and is constantly struggling to find balance. This is exactly what we know about our kids’ bodies, they are constantly struggling for the right balance of good and bad. We help the planet and our children when we assist in creating balance, instead of treating them as if they are on their own.
“The time has come to listen to the frightened moans of our fellow brothers and sisters and indeed the earth itself in pain.” – Exerpt from Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan (one of my all-time favorites…read it!)